How puppies grow and how their brain develops
During the first months of their life, your puppy undergoes incredible growth and development. Transforming from a tiny, fragile, furry ball with underdeveloped senses, into an energetic, focused and inquisitive pup in just a few months is truly amazing.
Did you know that a puppy normally gains 5-10% of its body weight every day for the first two weeks of life? As well as experiencing rapid physical growth, puppies undergo very fast sensory development in comparison to humans. They are born blind, with their eyes shut, only beginning to take in the world visually from 2 weeks of age. A few short weeks later, they are bouncing around your home exploring everything. Additionally, they are born with their external ear canals closed but once they are an adult, they can hear frequencies up to two and a half times higher than human ears!
Your puppy’s brain will develop at an incredible pace - by the time they’re 6 weeks of age, their brain will already be 70 % of the size of an adult dog’s brain.
Let’s take a closer look at this crucial period for puppies.
During a puppy’s growth and development, their muscles begin to build, and their bone structure changes, forming a locomotor system that enables your puppy to move about. At the same time, they begin exploring their environment, the nervous system is also simultaneously maturing, improving, and refining the messages between the brain and the body. You will notice your puppy becoming more agile, and less clumsy through this phase!
As they gain mobility, their curiosity will also grow. Through this period, they are constantly learning about their environment, such as how to navigate different surfaces, how to interact with people and other pets, learn what behaviours will grant them a reward, as well as what may be a threat to them in their environment. This window of learning peaks at about 8-9 weeks of age, so is the perfect time to start exposing your puppy to many positive experiences, as well as socialisation, so they can develop into a well-adjusted adult dog. It is also a great time to puppy-proof your home to keep them safe as they play and explore, especially as puppies prefer to explore their environment with their mouths!
How can nutrition help?
A high-quality puppy diet is imperative to not only support the critical growth of the physical body systems such as the bones and muscles, but is also crucial for brain development. Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, is a fatty acid found in abundance in brain tissue. Supplemented in the puppy’s diet, it can help neurological development, helping to improve your puppy’s memory, hearing, vision and overall brain development. Diets rich in high-quality protein and that contain sufficient energy will also ensure your kitten has the nutrition to help them explore their environment and grow into a healthy adult dog.